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India to eradicate mosquitoes using g-tech

Kochi, India: Centre for Advancement of Global Health (CAGH), an Indian NGO, in collaboration with the Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies at the Sree Chithira Thirunal Institute in Thiruvananthapuram, undertook a project to eradicate mosquitoes and enhance epidemic control in Kerala state, which is plagued by epidemics every year.

As part of the project, researchers will use satellite images to identify areas with high mosquito density and places where mosquito breeding is extensive. This will help health officials in fixing their target in their anti-mosquito drive to control diseases like dengue, malaria and chikungunya.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs evinced interest in the project, saying it would go a long way in making technology play a key role in public health.

Along with reducing human effort and bettering the identification of areas with high mosquito population, the project will also improve the quality of data collection, thereby improving preventive measures to check diseases. It will also help cut down the amount of fogging and spraying in areas where mosquito density is less. “Mosquito eradication is our priority as with mosquitoes around there is always the threat of an epidemic. Satellite mapping will give us a clear picture of our target areas, and GIS will provide all data regarding these places,” said Dr Ajit N Babu, who heads CAGH. Associated with a hospital in the US, Dr Ajit is also a member of the UN Action Team 6.

While working with the UN Taskforce in 2007, he learned how satellite-based technology could help improve public health. The team is now associating with scientists in Germany, who are giving the finishing touches to a mathematical model for the project.

They expect the new satellite of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to give them clear images that would reveal all aspects of an area, including water bodies, stagnant water and accumulated waste.

“The images will show details about potential (mosquito) breeding sites. We will check them with the help of field workers and compare the conditions, and see if the pattern is repeated,” said Dr Biju Soman, associate professor at Achutha Menon Centre.

African countries have been using satellite mapping to control malaria. A few similar projects are taking shape in India.

Source: Times of India